Sunday, December 26, 2004

Fool's Fate by Robin Hobb (book review)

Fool's Fate marks the end of Robin Hobb's latest trilogy, The Tawny Man series. It's been my experience that the last novel is usually one of the most integral books, since it can either give a fitting end to an excellent story, or salvage a series that was horrible to begin with. And yet it's also difficult to review since more often than not, there's not much to be said aside from what was originally mentioned in the review of the first book.

Hobb manages her writing consistency in this novel. While the book is quite thick, there's never a dull moment, and a lot is happening even when it's not mentioned in the text. Everything here is pretty much a continuation of the previous book, which in turn was the continuation of the first book in the trilogy. Perhaps my biggest disappointment is the fact that the Liveship Traders, the protagonists in Hobb's second trilogy, at this point sink into the background and play less of an integral role as they did in the first book.

Right now the greatest strength of Hobb is in her characters and in Fool's Fate, they reach their culmination as secrets are revealed and characters are forced to reconcile who they really are. Some writers might be tended to mend all things and make the characters get along, but Hobb specializes in that "gray" area where not everything falls neatly into place. There are happy endings in this book, but they're far from perfect.

The novel has a few twists here and there, but overall, nothing really too overwhelming. New characters are thrown into the mix and old villains pop up but they are quickly resolved, which is probably just as well so as to focus on the main characters introduced in the previous two novels.

The ending wasn't as spectacular as I'd imagined, although a lot of loose ends were cleaned up. If I could compare it to a movie, Fool's Fate is no Return of the King where Peter Jackson outdoes himself but rather this is more of a Back to the Future III where everything gets resolved yet doesn't really do much for us in terms of surprises or new appeal.

If you're expecting something new from this book, you'll be disappointed. But Fool's Fate is a good read, and it does give closure for Hobb's longest running series. If you haven't read Hobb's earlier books (or at least the beginning of the Tawny Man series), I really can't recommend this novel(it'd be like reading Return of the King without reading Fellowship of the Ring). But rest assured, the series has closure, and while we may not necessarily like it, it's time to say farewell to an old friend.

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